Theatre as an Agent of Change: Mobilising Against Marijuana Addiction in Tombia Ekpetiama Community in Bayelsa State
This paper posits community theatre as an agent of change and argues that community theatre possesses the technicalities to bring awareness to the members of a community to the social and cultural issues affecting them via their exploration in drama or performance, thereby causing changes in their mindset, action and socialisation patterns. With a focus on marijuana addiction amongst the youths in Tombia, Ekpetiama, the paper critically analyses the effectiveness of community theatre in mobilising, sensitising, entertaining and educating the community members on the dangers of drug abuse. Marijuana addiction is a challenge worldwide and theatre practitioners have engaged several community theatre projects in order to sensitise addicts on the need to do away with drugs. This work used focus group interactions, participant observation and in-depth interviews methods to record the opinions of the people of Tombia community on issues of concern evolving from marijuana abuse. Adopting performance analysis schemata, the responses recorded were structured as thematic strands analysed and interpreted in line with the research objectives. Findings showed that community theatre is a viable avenue within which Tombia, Ekpetiama community became aware and knowledgeable about the social challenges of marijuana addiction. This in turn influenced the resolve of the youths to change by shunning marijuana smoking while the community elders were prompted to put progressive local measures in place in order to checkmate the youths and boost practices that strengthen development. Therefore, it was concluded that, community theatre is indeed an ideal agent for the mobilisation of people at the grassroots level as it encourages village or community participation to open room for them to assess their problems and proffer solutions via the implementation of meaningful changes that aid community development. The study contributes to the understanding of community theatre and exposes its efficacy, as an additional strategy; to fight against drug abuse in communities in Nigeria.
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